Made For Midsize

Dec. 21, 2004
Packages aim for simple implementation.

Midsize and smaller manufacturers can take advantage of a variety of software packages that are geared for the needs of the David-sized or at least non-Goliath enterprise. Some ERP companies, in fact, go so far as to "pretune" their software packages for midsize manufacturers. "We are able to offer preconfigured software for many vertical industries," says Rick Pitts, vice president of channel sales and development for mySAP All in One, a package aimed at small and midsize companies. Almost 60% of all SAP implementations are at companies with sales of under $500 million. Similarly, PeopleSoft Inc. has ERP systems tailored for the midrange firm. "With Enterprise One, you get a pre-integrated technology set, including IBM's Websphere portal and server, as well as the IBM DB2 database, with the applications and middleware seamlessly pretuned for the midsize manufacturer," says Les Wyatt, general manager of PeopleSoft's Enterprise One ERP system (formerly the J.D. Edwards' One World package). Wyatt recalls that prior to the acquisition of J.D. Edwards by PeopleSoft a couple of years ago, the former software firm had 6,700 customers, including about 4,000 in manufacturing or distribution businesses. "Most were using it to run their operations and manufacturing," Wyatt says, and many were medium-sized and smaller companies. PeopleSoft today has a combined 6,300 manufacturing and distribution industry customers. Enterprise One is designed around a single database, so the complexity involved in maintaining the system is minimized, Wyatt says. "We've taken a lot of the complexity out of the implementation of enterprise software for midsize and small companies." That's not to say that the software won't enable small and midrange companies to do business with the big boys. A good example is Wal-mart's initiative to require suppliers to put radio frequency identification (RFID) transponders on all shipments by early next year, a move followed by the U.S. Department of Defense. The Enterprise One most recent release will support the RFID function. "We'll have full support for outbound RFID," Wyatt adds. "We think this method of being able to track material will be used by all manufacturers within two years." Oracle doesn't make a distinction between big companies and the midrange manufacturer. "We offer the same applications to all companies," says a spokesman. However, the software giant does offer prepackaged systems requiring minimal consulting know-how and tweaking to get running. The company is offering a Special Edition product, a preconfigured package of Oracle's core E-Business Suite of applications, including accounting, sales order management, inventory, purchasing, customer relationship management, sales and service, discrete and process manufacturing, and business intelligence. All this comes pre-installed and set up on a server, ready to use on delivery.

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